Friday, January 18, 2008

Congress has stepped in to challenge BPA!!

This article is from The Associated Press January 17, 2008, 7:06PM ET and is excerpted/reprinted here for educational purposes only. Bolds added.
Congress probes baby formula packaging By MATTHEW PERRONE
WASHINGTON
House Democrats are investigating whether a chemical used to package baby formulas poses a risk to infants, despite assurances by U.S. regulators that it is safe for kids and adults.
Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak sent letters Thursday to seven companies that make baby formulations, questioning whether they use bisphenol A in the lining of their cans and bottles. The companies include Hain Celestial Group, Nestle USA, Abbott Laboratories and Wyeth. The chemical at issue has been used to package foods for over 50 years, but consumer advocates said last year that trace amounts that leak into food could be dangerous to babies.
Concerns about the chemical caused Canadian retailers to remove bottled water and other plastic containers from store shelves last month.
FDA is reviewing the safety of the chemical but said last November it "sees no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use."
In a letter to FDA, Dingell and Stupak, both Michigan Democrats, ask commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to explain how the agency determined bisphenol's safety.
"At best,
the scientific community has concerns about the safety of bisphenol A," said Stupak, in a statement. "Our primary goal is to protect infants from a potentially harmful chemical."
An expert panel of researchers assembled by the National Institutes of Health said last August that the chemical's "impact on human health is a concern, and more research is clearly needed."
..."Parents using infant formula should not be alarmed because the bisphenol used in infant formulas and other food packaging exists in trace amounts," said Marisa Salcines, spokeswoman for the International Formula Council. "No change in infant feeding practices are necessary at this time."
A spokesman for Wyeth said Thursday the company does not use the chemical to package any of its baby formula products. Calls placed to other companies Thursday evening were not immediately returned.

Monday, January 07, 2008

US News and World Report - where do you find your health experts?

Note to Editors of US News and World Report and Amanda Gardner:
Thank you for your article on breastfeeding and atopy, that starts out with the latest research on the subject:http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/healthday/080107/breast-feeding-seems-to-protect-against-some-allergies.htm You first quoted the respected researcher, Dr. Frank Greer. However, you then offer extensive rebuttal and the last word Jennifer Wu who, while a well published researcher in her field, is neither a researcher nor an expert on this subject matter, nor even a pediatrician who could offer clinical comment.
While it is reasonable to provide alternative “opinions”, please ensure that those identified have equivalent expertise in the same subject matter. I do not believe that anyone involved in research on this issue would have given these quotes. Hence you may be misinforming the public on this important health issue.
Further, the alternative opinion, in this case, is not what is accepted in the field. The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research hosted a comprehensive review of the topic. See: http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/brfout/brfout.pdf, p. 16 and more, excerpt below.
Atopic Dermatitis. One good quality meta-analysis of 18 prospective cohort studies on full term infants reported a reduction in the risk of atopic dermatitis by 42 percent (95% CI 8% to 59%) in children with a family history of atopy and exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months compared with those who were breastfed for less than 3 months. The meta-analysis did not distinguish between atopic dermatitis of infancy (under 2 years of age) and persistent or new atopic dermatitis at older ages.
Thank you for your ongoing attention to ensuring the accuracy of your reporting in your most respected magazine.

Friday, January 04, 2008

ACLU supports Breastfeeding in Art - and in life

[I have edited and added brackets to this ACLU letter from Vince Gonzales, Pres. Lubbock Chapter, ACLU, sent out by Linda Smith]
ACLU of Texas, Lubbock Chapter, Denounces City of Lubbock Censorship of Lahib Jaddo artwork.

January 2, 2008, Lubbock, TX: The ACLU of Texas, Lubbock Chapter, was and is greatly disturbed by the recent action to censor certain sketches designated for exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center. The ACLU is opposed to censorship in all its forms, and believes that the right to choose what we see, hear, and read is one of our most vital freedoms. But more importantly, we have heard the outcry in our community regarding the logic, or rather illogic, of censoring the sketch of a nursing mother and child, and the message such censorship sends to our community.

Scott Snider, a member of the City Manager’s Office for the City of Lubbock, decided that artwork depicting a nursing baby was unacceptable for display at the Buddy Holly Center during the First Friday Art Trail, because he deemed it inappropriate for a general viewing audience without actually viewing the art. It's interesting that U.S. federal law protects nursing on all federal grounds, and Texas law explicitly protects the right of a nursing mother to nurse anywhere she has a right to be, which makes a clear case that neither federal law nor Texas law consider breastfeeding to be an act that is "inappropriate for a general viewing audience." Mothers are free to breastfeed in offices, parks, libraries, amusement parks, churches, and everywhere else, where they are likely to be seen by a much wider "general viewing audience" than the Buddy Holly Center, and that is supported by federal and state law. ...

Formula-feeding increases risk of death from sudden infant death syndrome, certain types of childhood cancers, necrotizing enterocolitis, allergies, asthma, diabetes and obesity later in life, and many more ailments. [At least] 500 babies a year in North America die as a direct result of being formula-fed. Promoting the myth of breastfeeding being indecent has serious ramifications for the most vulnerable members of our society. ...

[T]he policy set in place by Mr. Snider and the City of Lubbock government is decidedly anti-breastfeeding and thus anti-family. Now that this issue exists, it has come to our attention that mothers throughout the community have been discriminated against and made to fell as second-class citizens for doing what is best for their children, breastfeeding.

In summation, .. neither federal nor state law considers breastfeeding an obscene activity or something that needs to be shielded from children or the workplace; The City of Lubbock would be hard-pressed to find a better arbiter of decency than the law itself. If the laws protect the right of a mother to breastfeed in a public park a few feet away from children, I fail to see how a sketch of a breastfeeding baby is a greater risk to a "general viewing audience." If the laws protect the right of a mother to breastfeed sitting at her desk in an open-concept office, I fail to understand how a sketch presents a risk to those viewing at work. If we are to rate artwork as acceptable based on a standard of if they will offend a small segment of people, then I suspect a vast majority of artwork would have to be deemed unacceptable.

To that end, at 6 p.m. Friday, January 4, 2008, in cooperation with the Lubbock Chapter of the ACLU, Birth Without Borders Intl., financial support of Dr. Gary Miracle and Tobyn Leigh, and the moral support of Mothers Acting Up, a nurse-in will be held in Lubbock, TX. The time has been chosen to allow working mothers (who face unique problems when breastfeeding their children) to participate. The location will be announced Friday morning.